November brings high hopes for cannabis legalization

November is shaping up to be a very exciting time for cannabis advocates. Hundreds of millions of Americans will be casting their vote for President November 8, while over 25 percent of the country will be voting on social and medical cannabis propositions.

The most exciting part? Legalization is leading in nearly every state where it is on the ballot. Even more exciting? If all states with legalization on the ballot approve, a quarter of the United States will be free from cannabis prohibition and 62 percent will live in states with medical programs.

Here’s where each state stands on legalization this upcoming election.

 

SOCIAL USE

Arizona

Arizona legalized cannabis for medical use back in 2010, and the program has grown to nearly 100,000 patients since. The medical act passed by a close vote back then, and it is looking like social use will be another close vote for this historically red state.

Proposition 205, effective September 2017, would allow adults 21 and over to buy and possess up to an ounce of cannabis and grow six plants at home. The proposition would establish a new department to regulate cannabis and impose a 15 percent tax on sales.

A recent poll conducted in August stated 50 percent of Arizonans support legalized cannabis, while 40 percent oppose and 10 percent were undecided.

California

California is no stranger to cannabis. After legalizing medical use in 1996, the most populous state in the U.S. is finally voting on social use two decades later.

With more than 700,000 registered active patients in the program currently, and 60 percent of Californians planning to vote yes on legalization, it’s hard to imagine California won’t follow suit with the likes of Colorado and Washington.

Proposition 64 would make it legal for adults to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate six plants at home. The various taxes on sales would be deposited into the state’s Marijuana Tax Fund, with a majority of the funds being spent on substance-abuse education and treatment.

Nevada

Nevada’s medical program was approved in 2000, but the first dispensaries did not open until 2015. The program currently sits at more than 20,000 patients.

With its program of reciprocity in place, Nevada is one of the more progressive medical cannabis states. Medical cannabis patients from any state with a valid card can purchase their medicine from dispensaries in Nevada. Pretty cool, right?

While this program is great for attracting tourism and allowing patients to obtain the medicine they need while traveling, the doors will be opening up for all non-patients if the measure passes this November.

Question 2 would legalize adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and impose a 15 percent tax on recreational cannabis sales. The revenue generated from the tax will go toward education. Currently a recent poll stated 57 percent of Nevada’s population will vote yes on the measure, and 33 percent oppose.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts currently has more than 30,000 active patients in its medical program, which was established in 2012 and was approved by 63 percent of voters.

Question 4 will legalize possession of up to an ounce of cannabis for adults and allow for home cultivation. Social cannabis sales will be subject to 3.75 percent excise tax as well as regular state sales taxes.

A recent poll found that 53 percent of voters approve of legalization while 40 percent oppose.

Maine

Maine is another state with a medical program dating back to the ‘90s. The program passed by 61 percent in 1999 and has since grown to more than 37,000 patients.

Maine also participates in a form of reciprocity. Patients from out of state are allowed to print off a form from the Maine Division of Public Health for their at-home provider to sign. Out-of-state patients need only have proper documentation and a photo ID to purchase their medicine.

Question 1 would allow adults to possess of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and home cultivation for up to six plants. A 10 percent sales tax will be placed on recreational sales.

A poll found that 55 percent of Maine residents support legalization while only 38 percent oppose.

MEDICAL USE

Florida

Heading down south, Floridians will have the opportunity to vote on a more broadly legalized medical program rather than its current situation of allowing cannabis for only terminally ill patients. A similar measure was on the 2014 ballot, but failed due to being 2 percentage points shy of what was needed for it to pass.

Several polls have shown more than 60 percent of Floridians approve of medical cannabis, which is the percentage needed for the amendment to pass.

Amendment 2 would open up the medical program to patients suffering from conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, Crohn’s disease and more.

Arkansas

It looks like another friend from the south has also opened its eyes to medical cannabis: Arkansas. Well, maybe not for the first time.

There have been more than 7 medical cannabis ballot initiatives proposed in Arkansas, with Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act finally reaching a vote this November. The act would approve for 19 qualifying conditions, including Tourette's syndrome, arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Although there aren’t many recent polls on the issue, a 2015 poll found that a whopping 68 percent of Arkansas residents are ready to legalize medical cannabis with only 26 percent opposing.

North Dakota

The most recent poll for medical cannabis approval ratings in North Dakota is from 2014, stating 47 percent of residents support medical use and 41 percent oppose.

Measure 5 would allow patients to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis and allow for home cultivation for certain patients. It would also allow for about 12 conditions, including chronic pain, PTSD and cancer, to be approved for medical cannabis treatment.

Montana

Interestingly enough, Montana already passed its medical cannabis program in 2004.

Residents will be voting on the The Montana Medical Marijuana Initiative in November to move some of the program’s restrictions, including a ban on dispensaries, flagging doctors to be reviewed if they recommend more than 25 patients use cannabis annually, and limitations to qualifying conditions.

With a 51 percent opposing rate from a recent poll, it will undoubtedly be a close one in this state.
While legalization for social use didn’t make the ballot for New Mexico this year, 61 percent of residents believe it should be legalized according to a recent poll – that’s higher than the national average of 60 percent.

It really should come as no surprise, though. The Medical Cannabis Program in New Mexico has seen patient enrollment increase in an unprecedented rate. The 33,000 currently active patients is a 78 percent increase over the number of patients last year. In the last month alone, nearly 3,000 patients have been added to the program.

Not to mention, the Legislative session in January of 2017 could bring some hope for anti prohibitionists. Due to the current economic “death spiral” occurring in New Mexico, legislators are looking for new sources of revenue. In that case, legalized cannabis should be a no brainer. The topic could likely be visited during the session.

So while November won’t bring legalization to New Mexico, January just might.